Helping Children Cope with Death

Ages Seven to 12 Children ages seven to 12 are primarily oriented to family, although they begin to relate to and gain identity from their peers. Play remains a mode of self-expression, although children this age express themselves quite well verbally, especially feelings such as mad, glad and sad. They begin to grasp more abstract concepts such as truth, time, space and death, although magical thinking still plays a role. Around the ages of seven or eight, children attribute life more to movements in nature, and not so much to inanimate objects like toys. A cloud is alive as it blows across the sky. Water is alive when it gurgles and runs in a stream. Seven or eight year olds frequently become fearful of death because they realize for the first time that it is real. No matter who dies, they may feel devastated at the thought of losing a parent. Obviously, the death of a parent is extremely traumatic at this age. Some of their questions may allude to fears of their own death. Death seems to be an attacker who takes life. Although able to understand the finality of death, many of the factors of early childhood still apply. It is important for

Children age seven to

children of this age to express their sadness, anger, fear and guilt. Because they now understand that people die, they may become interested in what

twelve begin to understand the reality of death.

happens after death. As they begin to relate to some of the mysteries of life, they are able to relate to some of the mysteries of death. A child of this age is concerned not only about death as a concept, but also about the mechanisms of death.

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